The effects of an inhaled β2-adrenergic agonist on lower esophageal function: A dose-response study

M. D. Crowell, E. N. Zayat, B. E. Lacy, A. Schettler-Duncan, M. C. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations


Study objectives: Albuterol, a β2-adrenergic agonist that is commonly used to treat asthma, reduces bronchial smooth muscle tone. The pharmacodynamics of inhaled albuterol on esophageal function were studied in healthy volunteers. Design: A prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover design. Setting: An academic medical center. Patients: Nine healthy volunteers (five men, four women; age, 22 to 30 years). Interventions: Albuterol (2.5 to 10 mg) or placebo was given via nebulizer. Volunteers were studied at two sessions, 1 week apart, using a 6-cm manometry assembly and a low-compliance pneumohydraulic pump. The percentage of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxation, the frequency of transient LES relaxations (TLESRs), and the amplitude, duration, and propagation velocity of esophageal contractions were measured at 5 and 10 cm above the LES. Dependent measures were evaluated using two-way, repeated-measures analysis of variance. Measurements and results: Albuterol therapy reduced LES basal tone in a dose-dependent manner (baseline, 17.0±2.6 mm Hg; at 10 mg, 8.9±2.1 mm Hg; p=0.01). The frequency of TLESRs was not different from placebo (not significant). Albuterol reduced the amplitude of esophageal contractions at 5 cm above the LES (baseline, 72.5±18.6 mm Hg; at 10 mg, 48.8±10.0 mm Hg; p<0.05). A significant reduction in esophageal body contractile amplitudes was noted at 10 cm (F[1,6]=7.05; p<0.05). Conclusions: Inhaled albuterol reduced LES basal tone and contractile amplitudes in the smooth muscle esophageal body in a dose-dependent manner. Inhaled β2-agonists may increase the likelihood of acid reflux in a subset of patients who receive cumulative dosing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1189
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • β-agonists
  • Albuterol
  • Asthma
  • Esophagus
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Lower esophageal sphincter
  • Transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

Cite this

Crowell, M. D., Zayat, E. N., Lacy, B. E., Schettler-Duncan, A., & Liu, M. C. (2001). The effects of an inhaled β2-adrenergic agonist on lower esophageal function: A dose-response study. Chest, 120(4), 1184-1189.